Taking control of your finances means taking the time to conduct an honest assessment of your financial picture. According to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Consumer Advocate Eleanor Blayney, CFP®, peel back the layers of your financial life by gathering relevant financial documents, like your most recent tax return, your last paystub, and the latest statements for your retirement and investment accounts, and asking the following questions:
- What is your gross and net income, and what are your expenses?
- What do you have in terms of financial assets (savings and investment accounts, real estate, retirement plans, etc.)?
- What are your debts, both in terms of amounts outstanding as well as what you pay each month?
- What workplace benefits do you receive?
- What insurance coverage do you have to protect your health, income, life, property, or need for physical assistance?
- How are your assets titled and who gets them when you are no longer here?
Answering all these questions at one time, in one place is a key first step to building a sound foundation for a financial plan. As Blayney explains, this exercise will give you a clear picture of your financial starting point so that you can set and meet your financial goals.